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Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:23 pm
by Erkalump
So... 6 months ago I bought my first 5 string and my second ever bass, a G&L Tribute L 2500. I just can't seem to get comfortable with it.

My first bass was a SBMM stingray Sub and I thought the G&L would be a serious upgrade, but so far, I'm disappointed.

I'm finding the G&L less comfortable to play, and tonally unsatisfying.

Even after upgrading to the USA preamp assembly, (big improvement) the SBMM still just sounds more full and complete than the L2500. I like the boost / cut 2 band eq too.

I'm considering either switching to a boost / cut pre or cutting my losses and selling the G&L.

I love the idea behind the L series, but I spend more time trying to dial in a sound and feel than I do playing.

Any advice from the G&L faithful would be appreciated. Especially anyone who has switched to active tone controls who can provide comparison feedback.


Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

PostPosted: Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:40 pm
by Ken Baker
One thing to remember with a fully active basses like the SUB (I had one too) and the G&L M Series is that the preamp isn't providing a lot of gain. What does add or subtract gain is the EQ section. As players we perceive that as added tonal flexibility. The stock L Series preamp has no active EQ and, on its own, provides just a tiny gain boost. There's also a touch of treble added, but just a touch. The Passive Treble Bass (PTB) tone controls are cut only, and many look at that as a limiting factor. I did for a while, but not so much now. They're great sounding out of the box.

I switched my Fullerton L-2500's preamp out for an Aguilar OBP-3 preamp. The coil switching is basically "K" equivalent (Series/Single/Parallel) and pickup selection is the stock switch. So what do I do with all that flexibility? Not a helluva lot. I give it a little mid cut and a weensie bit of bass and treble boost, something I could do just as easily with my amp. The bass sounds every bit the G&L L Series that it is. I switch to passive, which is pickups to the jack through the volume control, and it stills sounds like a G&L.

There is a notable difference in raw tone between the G&L with its ceramic magnet pickups and the EBMM StingRay or SUB with its alnico magnet pickups. As a general rule, the ceramic pickups will have a more aggressive tone than the alnicos. I'm guessing that this difference is part of what's bothering you. What you might do before anything else is look around for a SLO Music Man Sterling bass, which has ceramic magnet pickups. Play it with the EQ flat, which should approximate the G&L with bass & treble dimed. Don't pay too much attention to feel; just listen. It's probably going to sound quite similar to the G&L. A-B them if you can. Then compare it to a 'Ray or your SUB.

Another thing to try is turn down the G&L's volume to 75%-80% and see how it sounds to you. In addition to turning down the volume you're also dialing back some of the aggressiveness. You can always add the volume back in at the amp. You might also try playing a G&L M-2500, which has a fully active preamp with 3 band EQ. Its pickups are less hot than the L-2500 and you may find it fits you better.

If you find that the aggressive tone of the ceramic pickups is what is bothering you, then you may as well flip the G&L because that is the G&L's voice and it isn't going away, even with fully active EQ.

As to how the G&L feels, that is very subjective and will vary from instrument to instrument. A pro setup may help or it may not; only you can tell. Another thing to consider is that the USA basses usually have a nicer and more playable feel than the Tributes, so finding a USA L-2500 might be a good thing.

Sorry for the wall of text. I figured some back story and experience could help you get your head wrapped around this.


Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

PostPosted: Sun Jul 28, 2019 3:58 pm
by Erkalump
Very helpful, Ken. Thank you for your insight! :D

Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:00 am
by TDR1138
I tend to feel that a lot of people don't approach/view the L-series basses the way that they're designed. They're really, at heart, a passive bass. The preamp is just a buffer, for the most part, and not your traditional preamp that boosts/cuts. Ken gives some good advice in approaching it with the volume about 75%-80%, but I'd go further and say roll all three knobs back to about 75%-80%. Then you can kind of work it to add a little more bass and treble with those respective knobs, or push the mids out more by increasing volume while decreasing the bass/treble.

As Ken mentioned, the M-2500 is going to have your more traditional active preamp with B/M/T boost and cut with center detent. The M is a little smoother than the L, but still retains a lot of the character of the L. I've played Ls long enough that I found myself missing that extra little bit of oomph from the L. I also think the M (and anything with an active preamp, really) gets a little muddy in the low end, as most preamps tend to boost the low end in the 40Hz range, which is too low IMO. But that's just my gripe. Maybe that's what you're looking for.

As to the feel, is there something in particular that you don't like about it? i.e. string spacing is too tight, neck is too chunky, action is too high, or what? A setup can cure some things, but others may be inherent to the design of the bass itself. And it may just be that it will take a little time to get used to it, too, seeing as it's your first 5 string. Have you played other 5 strings? What were they, and did they feel more comfortable?

Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:09 pm
by Erkalump
Update... So I took the above advice as well as lowering the pickups substantially. I'm keeping the bass in passive mode primarily.

The instrument is much more well behaved and the tone controls much more usable. I swapped out the knobs for skirted amp type knobs with numbers on them. Keeping the volume between 6 and 8 and treble at about 2 with bass at about 6 gives a very smooth yet defined sound.

My comfort issue was solved by settling on a strap length that lets both my elbows bend about 90 degrees and keeps the neck angled up about 35 to 40 degrees.

Thus puts both my wrists at a mostly straight angle. An unexpected benefit has been that my plucking attack effort is greatly reduced. The whole bass is just easier to play and totally buttery.

Playing in a cover band requires me to dial in a very different sound from one song to the next and now I feel that the switches and knobs are more useful in that regard.

Plus, I still have gobs of earth shaking bass with a flick and a twist whenever I want it and I can get real thin with another flick and twist the other way!

Thank you both!

Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

PostPosted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:03 pm
by Ken Baker

Does this mean she's a keeper?



Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 9:35 pm
by Erkalump
So far so good. Thinking about the K mod. Also gasing for a jb. I can't ever leave anything alone.

Re: Trouble getting on with my tribute L 2500

PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:10 pm
by Raman
Ken and TDR1138's answers were so very informative that it's difficult to add anything helpful. So just a small point.

One thing that greatly helped my appreciation of my own L2500 Trib was to understand the dynamics of the tone knobs.
With my previous basses (passive or active), my reflex was to start with the tone knobs at 50%, then cut or boost to shape my sound. But that didn't seem completely adequate with the L2500.
You have to see the L2500 as a provider of very high quality bass signal, rather than finished tone. So at some point it fully downed on me that the natural neutral state of this bass is with both tone knobs at 100%.

As mentioned above, lower the volume and adjust your overall tone with whatever combination of amp, preamp and effects that you like to use.
Then experiment with the L2500's tone knobs: First with both at 100%, then cutting them to 100%/0% and 0%/100%, and then variations in between.
And only after that experiment with the parallel, series and treble boost switches.

This may sound a bit esoteric, but mentally somehow taking it in that order, rather than hammering the tone knobs up and down, did something to my understanding of the L2500's tone-shaping possibilities.